National

Dementia prevention smartphone app developed in Japan

Jiji

A government institution has developed a smartphone app designed to prevent elderly people from developing dementia amid restraints on activities outside the home due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology believes that elderly people could be at greater risk of suffering dementia, as well as seeing a decrease in their physical strength to levels requiring care, as a result of staying indoors.

The free app allows users to create walking routes to parks and other facilities and details 50 kinds of exercises that can be done at home.

The institute will later add more functions to the app, such as providing a video that will guide users through physical exercises while they play word games and answer math questions. In addition, the center plans to help elderly people use food delivery services of Uber Eats and Amazon’s online shopping services to keep them connected with society.

According to a survey conducted by the center from April 23 to 27, when the whole country was under the government’s state of emergency over the coronavirus crisis, only 50 percent of responding elderly people said they were making sure they exercised.

The survey also showed that the amount of time the respondents were spending on physical activities per week decreased by some 30 percent from the levels before the pandemic.

The smartphone app was developed using ¥100 million from the government’s first supplementary budget for fiscal 2020.

“It’s important to appropriately balance coronavirus infection prevention steps and physical activities,” an official of the center said.

“We want elderly people to move around even while staying at home,” the official added.

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